Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Trials of Solomon Parker - Back in Butte

The World Tour of Montana for The Trials of Solomon Parker wrapped up this weekend in Butte!

First stop: Books & Books an great independent bookstore run.

Eric signed all of their copies and personalized those they sold on Saturday. He's classy like that.

"Hey, look at that." Eric Scott Fischl

Nest stop: Headframe Spirits right around the corner.

It got realllllly crowded in there. Turns out it was Homecoming weekend at Montana Tech.

Sold some books, chatted with some folks, consumed some superior cocktails.
"You can't get this in Iceland." Tara Fields

We got in on a quick distillery tour and ran into our old pal, Bigfoot!

I made mini cupcakes with Headframe's Neversweat Bourbon Whiskey in copper papers, of course.

We stayed and the formerly grand Hotel Finlen which was grand enough for a one-night stay, but... PRO TIP: Do not visit Butte on Homecoming weekend, because the carousing in the streets was really loud and pretty much all night long.

Lots of copper and if my eye is correct, it's Modern Masters Metallic Paint, Copper.

Old school

By the time we were done with this, most of the downtown retailers were closed, so we hit Pekin Noodle Parlour, the oldest continually-operated Chinese Restaurant in the US. It was an experience not to be missed, but the food can be missed. Ahem.

Of course, Butte is ripe for puns and jokes...

It was a quick trip; we head home on Sunday morning so we could attend the annual Barter Party of our awesome friends. I made gin again, took some sewn things, and Eric had books! We got alllll kinds of great stuff and had a great time. I only wish we hadn't been so exhausted from not sleeping at all.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Trials of Solomon Parker - Getting Crafty

I'm having a hard time finding the enthusiasm to put together that promised post on our experience with the Lolo Peak Fire, but I will get to it. In all likelihood.

IN THE MEANTIME, here's what's been going on around here in regards to Eric's second novel's release earlier this month*: fan crafting!**

The Trials of Solomon Parker has a cyclical plot, rotating between Butte, Montana during the copper wars years, and Stevensville, Montana around 1900. So this year, I got the bug to participate in Stevensville's annual Scarecrow Festival (Oct 6-7) with a TToSP-themed scarecrow!

On Saturday, Oct 7, Eric set up at the Blacksmith Brewing Co. tasting room to talk with folks and hopefully sell some books, which he did.

This was the perfect opportunity to play the awesome book trailer his friend, Patrick of Afflux Films, made:

And of course, this kind of event inspired me to make another book display piece, this time a miniature mine car.

One thing I noticed about the set up at the Blacksmith Brewery tasting room is that it was kind of hard to tell exactly what was going on with that-guy-sitting-there-with-some-books-in-front-of-him. This is especially the case once friends started showing up and visiting. I decided a little backdrop would help make it obvious that Eric was there with a purpose other than drinking and that this could be useful for other only-semi-official-events.

I looked at a few tutorials online for the frame, made size adjustments, then assembled a portable stand out of 3/4" PVC. There are about a bazillion blogs posting the same process, even calling it the same thing, so I won't go into it here. You can search "10 minute, $10 photo backdrop" to find it, but let me tell you two things: you won't get all the materials for $10 unless you find some kind of smoking deal and it will take more than 10 minutes just to clean the writing off the pipe (if you are so inclined) and of course more than 10 minutes to go buy it all. ;) Nonetheless, it is a quick and inexpensive way to make a backdrop stand that could have plenty of uses for plenty of folks. I expect we'll use it for Eric's future books' events as well as for Halloween decorating, etc.

For The Trials of Solomon Parker backdrop, I used the same techniques I used to make the Dr Potter's Medicine Show banner:

  • Pre-washed & cut fabric to fit, hemmed sides, sewed rod pockets at top and bottom
  • Printed out an image to fit my opaque projector, 
  • Traced that onto cloth using opaque projector, 
  • Hand-painted where I'd drawn the projected image with acrylic paint mixed with fabric medium

You know what really, truly, helps authors and is super easy? Rating their books on Amazon and/or GoodReads. If you think The Trials of Solomon Parker is worth 4 or 5 stars, please follow one or both of those links and click the stars! It truly only takes a few minutes, less if you already have a GoodReads account. No matter where you bought your copy, you can leave stars on Amazon.

* October 3 in US and Canada. 5 October in UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India.
** No kidding.

Dr Potter's Medicine Show - NEW and EXCITING Stuff!

Remember that super cool book trailer for The Trials of Solomon Parker that Eric's friend, Patrick Carew, made? Well, he's made one for Dr Potter's Medicine Show, too! 

Eric stars as Dr Alexander Potter and I got to make a bunch of the props! Well, some were creepy things that I had already made and had around, but still.

Neighbor Bob, who played Solomon Parker, kindly let us use his sheep wagon and hang around his yard past dark.

Here is where I'm going to cajole and hassle you all to click thru share this YouTube link to the book trailer all around social media to help spread the word!

Annnnnd guess what! Dr Potter's Medicine Show was taught as part of a freshman honors college course at a university in the Midwest! Approximate 500 students (in two class sections) were supposed to read it! About midway through their reading, Eric Skyped in to do a Q & A with the students for each section. Pretty cool! 

They never got the Skype quite working enough that Eric could see the lecture hall on his screen, but the Dean kindly took a photo for him.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Halloween at the VME

It has been a rather timid Halloween season around the VME, but after taking last year off it feels good to have the decorations up, even if it's less than half of them.

We did a few things differently this time around. Maybe taking a year off gives a fresh eye on things?

Introducing Commodore & Mrs. Boanbotham.

I finally got around to putting most of the holographic portraits into thrift store frames! And one of the reasons that I was eager to install the picture rail moulding was so that I could switch out the decorations on this wall seasonally - especially for Halloween season.

Since last year I finally made my old-timey apothecary, there were fewer jars for the bathroom, but now that we have the doodad shelf so it worked out. I left most of the "chop shop" type decorations packed in their boxes this time.

As far as vermin and critters go, I kept it to just snakes, mice/rats, and a fractions of the spiders.

Oh, hey! What's that craniometer? Why, it's a craniometer I made for another project (coming soon)!

It's a good think Eric likes this, because it's a little too big and delicate to store. [wink]

Monday, October 2, 2017

What I Did on Summer "Vacation": The Good, Part III

I've mentioned in the last two posts about how our August got complicated. It was supposed to be about our fun trip to Europe followed by a some long-awaited visitors. But instead it was followed with a trial by fire and smoke, i.e. the Lolo Peak Fire getting all up in our neighborhood business. I'm getting to that, but first the third and mostly final-ish leg of our trip!

The ferry trip from Helsinki to Tallinn, Estonia is only a couple-few hours. The ticket site I used was a little confusing so we ended up with a cabin that we hardly spend any time it, but did get to leave our luggage secured in at no additional fee* so that was cool. We ended up finding a lounge with live entertainment and seats by some big old windows.

It took me several tried to even get close to a succeeding at getting a panoramic shot of the view of the Gulf of Finland from our table in the lounge. Our crossing was not actually in the least bit treacherous.

We arrived mid-late afternoon, took a taxi to our hotel, and checked-in planning to drop our bags and head out to start exploring the old city. But first we had to find our way to our room... we had no idea just what an adventure that would be on our way to our room, so we shot this video on the way back out. Later we found a very cool Indian restaurant where we had moose vindaloo!

Clearly labeled.

I have now eaten moose.

I don't know the story behind the bronze cow sitting on a bench outside a restaurant. Don't let the color of the sky fool you, it was night and dark-ish.

The next day we explored more, seeing a few specific historic sites and a museum or two. Eric also arranged for a one-day car rental so we could get out to see some nature the next day. And that evening we had our tradition one fancy meal of the trip at a deliscious farm-to-table type restaurant. It was really, really good and really, really reasonably priced. YEY! Also they had a pretty kick-A taxidermy display up front.

The view from that medieval some kind of real old wall! Click to enlarge!

Old city fortifications kick ass. Actually this one is called Kick in the Cock. 

One the wall selfie.

Some old church.

Oh! Longdrink with cranberry. Not as good as regular. Oh, well.

Mayer Staircase with 7 vases... and one Bigfoot.

Great dinner and excellent atmosphere!

The car arrived around 9a and we headed east to National Park that's a big forest bog! Note: Estonian is a language that we could mispronounce understandably to each other for purposes of navigation. Not that it always worked out perfectly on the drive. Ahem.

The trail starts off like a pretty standard forest trail.

Yup, that's a forest all right.

Then it starts to get all boggy. Stay on the boardwalk!

Hey look! We ran into our old pal at one of the pond-y parts!

There's a cool viewing stand in there. 

After the viewing stand, the boardwalks get a bit more serious. And less friendly to cyclists.
This is a two-way path, by the way. We just take turns stepping onto those support pieces jutting out on the sides.

I do love me a lush riparian zone.

Our traditional selfie-with-rental-car.

When we completed our bog walk we headed further east and a bit north in search of a forest trail that we never did quite find, but we did find an inhabited part of the National Park not far from where we thought that trail was supposed to be! Where we were able to secure a yummy snack & beer, watch the roof be re-thatched, and walk some beach-side and wooded trails. We got back just in the nick of time to return the car then chilled in the room a bit before heading out for dinner. After dinner we stopped at the Depeche Mode themed bar (underground) for a reasonably priced, well-made drink and some Tara-specific nostalgia.

Such a lovely little rest spot in the fishing village of Altja.

The restaurant is a traditional Estonian building which they were busy rethatching while we were there.
Charming houses in the village, this one with lichen on the fence. I love lichen!

Some Baltic Sea action.

Some big crane-like bird!

Another scenic Baltic Sea view.

Cool bridge.

Some lush, non-bog forest.

Hiking sign posts, the international language

Peet-y water? I don't remember if that is why it is dark or even if we found out why.

On our last day we finally found our postcards and a few other souvenirs. We hit the Tallinn City Museum which was a really good one and well worth the few Euro price. Then at lunch we wrote our cards, found a mailbox, and prepared to catch a taxi back to the ferry terminal. No cabin this time and a much more crowded ferry. Luckily we hustled our butts and secured a seat in a quieter lounge... that didn't say quiet for long. More live entertainment and lots of generously-embibed Finns. It was quite stormy, but that didn't really rock the boat or anything.

The Tallinn City Museum was a very good one! Among many other exhibits, it had a room with several of these interactive dioramas. All the fun of being an abusive monk with none of the bad haircuts!

Look at this guy! Outside a history of healthcare museum.

I think this is the street our hotel was on.

Lucky for us, the crazy storm hit after we were safely inside the ferry terminal. We did see some drenched passengers.

We arrived later than we expected, but not because the ferry was late, but probably because not adjusting the 24-hour time. Then we found I messed up our reservation and we had to relocate and then there weren't restaurants near the new hotel that were still serving food, but we finally found one that was serving TERRIBLE, overpriced food. Iguana, it was called, and it was the kind of place that served blended margaritas in buckets. Super MTV Spring Break vibe. Oy. This is the night we got word of the Lolo Peak Fire getting serious for our town, our area was under Evacuation Warning, north of us was issued an Evacuation Order, and Eric spent much of the wee hours texting with our dogsitter and our emergency/fire backup. The next morning after coffee we tried some local bookstores looking for Dr Potter's Medicine Show which Eric's agent, Jennie, had spotted, but we did not find it. A little window shopping, then we hauled our suitcases over the cobblestones to the train station and head out to the airport. A few hours later we were in the Rekjavik airport hoping to finally try the rotten shark, but we didn't have time. It was a MADHOUSE. But we got on our plane without issue, tried to sleep, and arrived in Portland 7 or so hours later. We didn't have much time and really no attention span to see many folks, but our nephew dog did eat Eric's mom's chocolate out of my suitcase. It didn't phase him one bit.

No shame & no one goes alone... even at 4:45 in the morning.

The next afternoon we flew back to Missoula, seeing the fires from the sky. Well the smoke, anyway. Delia had moved to our emergency/fire backup location - some awesome friends' house a bit south of us and on the other side of the valley, out of danger. Since there wasn't an evacuation order for us and it didn't seem like there would be one that night we went directly to pick up Delia, then came home and immediately photographed all the rooms of the house.

Looking towards our place from the air above Missoula.

Driving down Hwy 93 towards home, this is where Hwy 12 meets 93.

A quick Lolo Peak Fire post coming soon.

* There are lockers that cost a couple Euro for storing luggage, but we had no cash and I'm not sure our luggage would've fit anyway.